Simon McCrory returns to pivot the Antrim defence for Sunday’s National Hurling League Division 2A season defining clash with Westmeath at Corrigan Park. The St John’s stalwart has missed the opening league defeat to Kerry and the win over Meath last time out due to a hamstring injury but he has been passed fit for Sunday.
McCrory’s inclusion is one of a few changes made by the Neal Peden and his selectors with Nicky McKeague returning after suspension and Kevin Rice making a comeback, after also suffering a hamstring strain. McCrory will move to centre back with Matthew Donnelly moving to wing back, which sees Ronan Molloy move to the bench.
Team captain Conor McCann, who was on the 40 for the win over Meath, moves out to midfield to partner Nicky McKeague, who is making a return after serving a one game suspension. This new partnership in the middle of the park sees Conor Boyd and Sean Duffin drop to the bench while Kevin Rice comes in at wing forward with James McNaughton moving in the centre-half-forward slot.
That means that the full-back and full forward lines, who started against Meath remain the same with John ‘Rocky’ Dillon flanked by Stephen Rooney and Phelim Duffin at the back and Keelan Molloy flanked up front by Eoin O’Neill and Ciaran Clarke.
When Antrim suffered defeat to Kerry in their opening game at Corrigan Park three weeks ago it meant that it was going to be an uphill struggle to qualify for the league final, and subsequent promotion. Ideally it would have suited Antrim better if Kerry had gone on to beat Westmeath in the second round fixtures but the midlanders travelled to Tralee and came away with the both points. With Kerry now having the edge on Antrim due to their head to head game, the Saffrons simply can’t afford to lose out to Westmeath on Sunday or their promotion hopes will have gone, barring a few very unlikely results. So a win on Sunday is vital.
There is of course some good news as far as the strength of the panel is concerned with St Enda’s Joe Maskey and four of the six Cushendall players returning to training. Quite understandably the management have kept faith with the players who were in action through the Kehoe Cup and the start of the league but it is nice to know that they can call on the likes of Neill McManus, Eoghan Campbell, Joe Maskey and co. if needed. James O’Connell of Cloney Gaels also returns to the bench after injury.
The Antrim team to face Westmeah is –
|Ryan Elliott||Rian Mac Uileagóid||Cú Chullain|
|Stephen Rooney||Stiofán O Ruanaidh||Naomh Pol|
|John Dillon||Sean O Diolun||Fanaithe An Gleanna|
|Phelim Duffin||Feilim O Duifinn||Cú Chullain|
|Matthew Donnelly||Maitiú O Donnaile||Mac Uilin|
|Simon Mc Crory||Siomon Mac Ruairi||Naomh Eoin|
|Conor Mc Hugh||Conchuir Mac Aodha||Roibeard Eimeid|
|Conor McCann||Conchúr Mac Cana||Ciceam an Creagán|
|Nicky McKeague||Cú Chullain|
|Nigel Elliott||Nigel Mac Uileagóid||Cú Chullain|
|James Mc Naughton||Seamus Mac Neachtain||Na Seamroga|
|Kevin Rice||Caoimhin O Maolchraoibhe||Ciceam an Creagán|
|Eoin O Neill||Eoin Ó Néill||Cú Chullain|
|Keelan Molloy||Keelan Maolmhuaidh||Cú Chullain|
|Ciaran Clarke||Ciaran O Cleirchin||Mac Uilin|
|Kurtis Mc Greevy||Kurtis Mag Riabhaigh||Naomh Gall|
|Connor Patterson||Conchuir Mac Phaidin||Oisin|
|Sean Duffin||Sean O Duifinn||Tir Na nOg|
|Conor Boyd||Conchúr Búiteach||Mac Uilin|
|Donal Mc Kinley||Dónall Mac Fhionnlaoich||Na Seamroga|
|James O’Connell||Clooney Gaels|
|Connor Laverty||Conchuir Mac Laibheartaigh||Naomh Brid|
|Ryan McCambridge||Ruairi Ogs|
|Neill McManus||Ruairi Ogs|
|John McGoldrick||Naomh Eanna|
|Eoin Campbell||Ruairi Ogs|